Employees as a Key Audience

June 13, 2014

One of the first things we ask when embarking on a new marketing strategy is, "Who are your target audiences?" It's a rare case when one of the first audiences a company considers is it's own employees. In the last couple of years, we've seen an increase of organizations thinking of this first, and when they don't, we always ask, "What about your employees?"

In our worldview, it's increasingly critical to recognize that employees are all brand ambassadors. This philosophy led us to embrace the concept of culture-powered marketing. In this belief, marketing happens from the inside out. Your employees are your marketing front line, and by creating a great culture and empowering employees, you unleash a pretty unstoppable force.


  • your team has shared language and can easily tell your story.
  • your employees can't help but rave when people ask the inevitable "How's work?" question.
  • your target audiences are magnetized by the energy your employees have created around your brand.

Sounds pretty good, right?

For us, it looks something like this:
We set an organizational priority to create an amazing culture and employee experience (and we aren't done – this is a forever focus). Our employees are collaborators in bringing the cultural vision to life, creating a circle of understanding and iteration. Being happy at work allows our employees to create a great experience for the client, and another collaboration and feedback loop forms between employee and client. Our client has a great experience, and this takes care of the bottom line for us.

employee culture flow chart

Whoa, it's so beautiful – a double circle of understanding.

It sounds like a simple formula, but in practice is complex and requires a strong focus on internal communication. Some employees are born for this type of role, easily grasping nuances in language and story. Others need to be prepared for it. It took us several years of focus and iteration to begin to reap the benefits of this model.


1. We created a culture of storytelling. 
In the midst of discovering our purpose and rebranding, we threw out our entire former website. With a fresh slate, we wrote a history of SmallBox in parts. That storytelling approach was the start of what became our current website. We hired BrainTwins to create a mural in our basement to visualize our history. During our last Factory Week we shared stories, both high and low moments, that only a handful of employees were around to experience. Building our lore gives us shared language. The more we tell stories, the easier it is for every SmallBoxer to talk about who we are and what we do.

2. We upped our communication game (and outlets). 
We once depended on our weekly team lunch to communicate all of the things. As our team grew and started moving faster, this simply wasn't enough. Jeb started sending State of the Company addresses once per month. We also wanted a space to share things without having to clutter every inbox, so we built an internal sharing hub. We continue to iterate on this space, sharing everything from music we're digging, to tech and culture articles, to giving one another big ups for a project well done.

We see a big sea change coming where organizations will begin viewing employees differently. We've actually made this our vision: to spark a revolution of people-centered work. It may seem like a stretch for a company known for websites and marketing, but we've learned it's all connected. Things like a clear purpose and a great employee experience are prerequisites for great marketing.

Have you considered employees to be a key audience? What internal communications tips or tricks can you share?

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